Steel Products

Steel market chatter this week

Written by Becca Moczygemba

On Monday and Tuesday of this week, SMU polled steel buyers on a variety of subjects, including purchasing practices, steel sheet prices, scrap, and the future market.

Rather than summarizing the comments we received, we are sharing some of them in each buyer’s own words.

We want to hear your thoughts, too! Contact to be included in our questionnaires.

Are you an active buyer or on the sidelines, and why?

“Actively buying because I need to maintain inventory at certain level.”

“Sitting on the sidelines. We already completed 2024 purchases in October.”

“Holding off on buying. Can’t get orders using spot pricing.”

“Active, but buying what we need.”

“Buying our Q1-24 contract inventory and stock inventory.”

“Still have a full order book, but we are not buying full contract with all suppliers.”

“We are only buying what we need to because we feel we are very near the price peak.” 

Two months from now, will lead times be extending, flat, or contracting?

“I see this movement ending in mid-February. The present market is borrowing from the future.”

“Contracting. Buyers will outpace their demand.  Planned record auto production will not be realized.”

“I think lead times will be coming down as prices will be under pressure.”

“I believe we’ll see more domestic capacity in combination with imports arriving in late Q1.”

Prime scrap prices in January will be:

“Up. There is sufficient demand and limited supply.”

“Scrap will be up because it is in very short supply right now.

“It will be up. Demand remains strong, and supply of low residual scrap is concerning.”

“Sideways. Seems strong, but not positive.”

“Scrap will be up, albeit at a smaller level and perhaps their last opportunity in H1 2024.”

Where will prices be in two months? Why do you think that?

“$1,100-1,149 per ton. Mills seem to be busy through February.”

“The U.S. Steel sale will take some air out of the market.”

“$950-999 per ton. Still a lot of imports incoming.”

“I think in two months, prices will be headed down from the peak.”

“We will hit a peak in February because of tight availability.”

“By the end of Q1, we’re thinking numbers will start to trickle back down.”

“Time is running out on this ‘perfect storm’ for the mills. While perhaps two months earlier, we are in a pattern very similar to 2023. My suspicion is we will see very similar outcomes.”

Becca Moczygemba

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